One aspect of home health care that is growing without a lot of fanfare is home-based physical therapy. Like typical home health care services that support the elderly living independently longer, home-based PT is making it easier for therapy patients to receive their treatments. While there are drawbacks for in-home treatments, such as higher costs due to provider travel time and other reimbursements, many patients find that the benefits of in-home physical therapy outweigh any additional costs. Here are six of the best benefits to in-home physical therapy.
- Convenience. Ease and accessibility is always the first thing in-home therapy patients point to when discussing why they choose home physical therapy. Instead of dealing with weather, travel challenges, and other factors that impact those who are traveling to receive outpatient therapy services, when the therapist comes to them, they can focus more on the healing process.
- One-on-one care. When a patient is receiving in-home PT, they have the undivided attention of the caregiver. In an outpatient setting, a PT may be overseeing multiple patients while they are working through their treatment plan, or distracted by administrative or other duties. When treated at home, patients generally feel that they are receiving a higher quality of care.
- Outpatient can be stressful. Some outpatient therapy rooms are large, crowded, and noisy. Many patients can feel overwhelmed or anxious when they are trying to recover from injury or illness, and they are experiencing external stressors. With in-home care, they may still feel stress due to their condition, but they feel most comfortable in their home.
- Effective. A 2016 study found that home-based physical therapy was just as effective as outpatient therapy services. More compelling is that the study showed in-home care was even more effective in the long term. As expected, adherence to the prescribed treatment plan is the largest factor in determining the effectiveness of an in-home therapy plan. Additionally, patients found that in-home treatments were more intensive and focused because of the personalized treatment received when the therapist is working with you in the home.
- Increased Functionality. When the physical therapist is working with a patient in the home, the movements and exercises are immediately more relatable for them. Instead of having to tell the patient to perform a certain stretch in a doorway, they can show the patient exactly which doorway to use. While this may seem like a small thing, having a routine translate to the patient's known environment contributes to better adherence and understanding.
- Less can be more. In an outpatient setting, physical therapists have access to a multitude of equipment and tools. With in-home therapy, the PT has to strip down the session to the basics of what the patient has in their home and what can be carried in their personal vehicle. This can lead to a return to basic strength building and flexibility routines which provide the patient with more things they can do between PT visits. In-home PT’s often find that they are increasing their skill set because of more reliance on their hands, clinical expertise, and creativity.
Health care employment is continuing its rapid growth, and physical therapy is among the leading sector of that trend. Overall, in-home health care is a major driver of that growth with an expected expansion of over 40 percent in the next several years.